The website navigation structure is one factor that most people pay less attention to.
In the latest survey, just 50% of online users find it easy to access relevant content with the help of standard website navigation.
If your visitors can’t access your content or page, that can cause a serious user experience issue.
It will result in poor conversion rates, low engagement rates and higher bounce rates.
If you run an online retail store, bad navigation can have a bad impact on your sales and revenue.
In this article, I will completely explore everything about website navigation. I will share the following:
- The meaning of website navigation structure
- The principles of effective website navigation design
- How to improve your website navigation structure.
Before we get started, you may want to review what is a website structure and how it impacts your SEO.
Website navigation is the process of organizing pages, apps and links. It revolves around structuring your links and site hierarchy.
It is powered by a technology known as hypermedia or hypertext.
Hypermedia or text is a textual process of linking web pages to another text, images, sound, video and multimedia files. This is essential for content organization across the internet.
The URL displays the specific file that your browser has to retrieve from the server, and it processes the data so you can access it.
Internal links point to another page within a domain. On the other hand, external links point to another page on a different domain, which has a fully distinct server and website.
Website navigation simplifies the process of getting the page you want through menus with internal links.
A good navigation structure is an important prerequisite for a user-friendly website.
This is a network of links, typically pointing to internal pages, which are structured in a menu. A lot of websites have a menu at the upper section of their site.
This section is commonly known as the “header” in the world of web development and design.
You will mostly find the following pages linked to in the website navigation menu:
- About Us.
- Contact us.
The list is not exhaustive. There are other links on the menu.
We initially mention that 50% of online users find it difficult to utilize a navigation menu properly.
Without navigation, it will be almost impossible to access the right content.
Setting up the right menu and navigation on your site can tremendously lower the percentage.
This will boost your leads, traffic and sales while lowering your bounce rates and positively impacting your average time on site.
Before sharing suggestions on how to improve your website navigation, it is important to highlight some fundamental principles that will create a positive navigation experience for your users.
Ensure your navigation is simple to use and clear from pages on your website.
It is fairly simple to improve the visibility of your navigation menu when there are a handful of navigation options.
However, it can be difficult to do this when you have a big website with plenty of subcategories.
When setting up your navigation, ensure your top-level navigation option is visible on your website and simple to access.
Regardless of where anyone ends up on your website, whether on a blog or homepage, it has to be simple for them to figure out precisely where they at in your site structure and navigate around the website from their present location.
Ensure your visitors have a clear idea of their exact location via the page header.
Add menus in places visitors would naturally look for them (usually, the upper and lower section of the webpage).
Vocabulary and wordings in the user interface are highly important when designing a product.
Be sure that your navigation option has a clear label that clarifies the content of every page.
The user has to have an idea of the next step after clicking a navigation option prior to doing it.
A quality design is consistent. You have to ensure that your navigation menu has a consistent design across your website’s pages.
Try to use the exact same top-level navigation menus across your entire website, as it will offer your visitors some clarity.
Here are some ways you can boost your website navigation structure:
Before you begin crafting a blog article for your site, you have to properly plan the way the navigation and structure of your page will appear.
Planning is an important stage when creating a pleasant navigation structure for your website.
Using a sitemap creator is a fast and easy way to set up mockups for how you would like your website experience to become.
To a large extent, user research is a prerequisite for creating a well-structured page.
So ensure you prioritize the preferences and needs of your target audience and design a navigation system that is pleasant for them to interact with.
Create a Sitemap
A sitemap plays the important role of a framework for your website’s navigation structure.
It is usually designed as an element of an information architecture design. It displays the organization of your pages and its hierarchy.
Designing a sitemap is a computational process. After creating a prototype, your team has to concentrate on lowering its hierarchy level.
A complex hierarchy can confuse your visitors. Most developers design a large website with 3 or 4 hierarchy levels.
Remember, your site map plays the role of a virtual road map of your website that guides visitors and search engine crawlers.
Thus, it should be well-categorized and simple.
Make Use of Simple Language
It’s best to use non-ambiguous and clear language that your users understand and can search for.
This is far better than using common web development terminology or high-sounding copy.
This is in line with the best SEO practices. Ensure your pages align with your users’ search intents.
Add internal links across these pages with similar words and phrases that lead users to your website on SERPs.
Use Responsive Menus
Now that more than 50% of web traffic is from mobile devices, it is very important to have a responsive or mobile-friendly design.
This entails having an expandable menu layout for mobile rather than the ones that look congested or stretch out of the frame in the mobile browser.
This is now a standard practice because if your menus are non-responsive, they will be difficult to click, understand or use properly on mobile devices.
Fortunately, many quality WordPress themes feature responsive designs and menus. So WordPress is your best bet, except you are building your website from the ground up.
Embrace simplicity when designing your website navigation structure.
If your navigation is simple, users won’t have difficulty in understanding and accessing it.
Here are some tips for creating a simple navigation structure:
Don’t Add Too Many Options to the Navigation
For instance, having no more than seven menu items when structuring your navigation menu is ideal.
If there are subcategories, add a dropdown menu to display them.
Breadcrumbs are navigational elements that help in directing website visitors.
This is very necessary if your site has a multiple-level hierarchy, as visitors can use breadcrumbs to know where their exact location.
Do Not Use Icon-only Navigation
While icons can free up space, they can also complicate the process of navigating your site, particularly for your visitors.
There are just a handful of icons that everyone understands (such as home, save and print).
Besides these, other icons will only confuse people. That is the reason it is best practice to add labels if you are using icons in your navigation menu.
This way, you provide clarity.
Offer Search Functionality
If your site has over a hundred pages, you need a search bar in addition to other navigation options.
While search won’t automatically replace navigation, it serves as a quicker way for visitors to find what they want.
Search is necessary for online retail websites since it helps visitors access a category or product page directly.
You can set apart your menus from your sidebars and content with white space or different fonts.
Show explicitly the point where navigation begins and ends.
Regardless of whatever links are added or the language used in your menu, it is futile if your site visitors can’t access the navigation options.
If your website has a good navigation structure, it will provide a better user experience, higher engagement rates, and fast website performance.
It assists users in finding the content they want in a more efficient and simpler way.
It eliminates frustration and boosts your site perception. There are a top of website structure tools listed here to consider.
Below are some of the top navigation tools to use;
- The footer
- Search tool
- Navigation bar
- Quick links.
Now you have read this blog article, you understand the meaning, importance and how you can improve your website navigation structure.
Your site navigation should always prioritize simplicity, user experience and clarity.
Always stick to SEO best practices to make sure your content can be easily accessed by search engine crawlers and visitors.